When a company wants to improve its product, the normal path might be to hire some new talent and spend a fortune on research and development. Or, it could hold a contest. On March 14, movie streaming service Netflix announced the Netflix Cloud Prize. It’s giving away $100,000 (10 prizes at $10,000 each) to developers who voluntarily build on its open-source code and improve the services it offers over the Internet. Programmers have until Sept. 15 to come up with “something cool,” as the official contest website says.
Today over 33 million people around the world rely on Netflix’s cloud technology; the company based in Los Gatos, Calif., obviously has a lot to gain from improving its services. Holding a contest casts a wide net for talent and attracts attention. And if Netflix, which had a profit of $8 million in its last quarter, achieves everything it’s after—award categories include “best new feature” and “best portability enhancement”—$100,000 seems like a small price to pay.